It’s Not Just A Booty Call; It’s Called ‘Research’ Now!

  • Parent Category: News
  • Published: Thursday, 20 June 2013 16:11
  • Written by Ted Fleischaker

kinseyYou and your trick might think of it as a "booty call" but with privacy concerns addressed, Indiana University has re-released the free Kinsey Reporter app, a global mobile survey platform for collecting and reporting anonymous data about sexual and other intimate behaviours.

The Kinsey Reporter app is available for
free from both the Apple iOS and Google Play (for Android) stores, so now you can tell that trick that it's all "for research" just so long as you report after you give him breakfast and send him on his way.

The initial pilot project for this app was announced in the Fall. But researchers from IU's School of Informatics and Computing and project partner The Kinsey Institute delayed public release until the university could fully review the project for any potential privacy-related legal issues. The reporting app had already been reviewed and approved bv the university's information technology division and IU's Institutional Review Board, which reviews all research involving humans — and that includes you and whomever you might meet at the club or online.

So what does the app do and where does it get sent?

Kinsey Reporter allows citizen observers around the world to use free applications now available for Apple and Android mobile platforms to not only report on sexual behaviour and experiences but to share, explore and visualise the accumulated data. The app is free from Apple iOS and Google Play (for Android) online stores, and reports made by anonymous citizen scientists (that's you and your tricks) will be used for research and shared with the public at the Kinsey Reporter website.

Filippo Menczer, director of IU's Centre for Complex Networks and Systems Research, or CNetS, and a School of Informatics and Computing professor, said the designers did make one change to how information is reported: Reports will wait in a geographically defined queue until a quantity threshold is met in order to remove any fears that reports from low-population areas might be recognisable.

"In the past version we had intended on using a pre-determined time delay on reporting from low-population areas, but now it is a quantity delay,' he said. "Delays will be longer from low-population areas, but users may select a lower geographical resolution to decrease the delay."

Users have the option of selecting their own geographic preference for the report by choosing city/town, state/region or country.

 

 

CNetS, which is part of the IU School of Informatics and Computing and the Pervasive Technology Institute, and The Kinsey Institute developed the reporting app to collect anonymous data and then aggregate and share it openly.

After downloading the app, users can contribute observed information on topics such as sexual activity, public displays of affection, flirting, unwanted experiences and birth control use. Survey types change over time, and users are able to view aggregated reports by geographic region via interactive maps, timelines or charts. All of these reporting venues can be manipulated with filters that remove or add data based on specific survey topics and questions selected by the user.

Julia Heiman, director of The Kinsey Institute said the hope is that users will become citizen scientists, contributing as natural observers in society by using the mobile app to provide new insights for researchers into sexuality and relationships today.

"What do people notice, what are they involved in, and what can they relate to us about their lives and their communities?" are questions of interest, she said.

Menczer added that the new platform may allow scientists to explore issues that have been challenging to study, such as the prevalence of unreported sexual violence in different parts of the world, or the correlation between various sexual practices like condom use, and the cultural, political, religious or health contexts in particular geographical areas.

Reports are transmitted to Kinsey Reporter using a secure, encrypted protocol, and the only data collected are approximate timestamp and geo-location selected by the user, and the tags the user chooses in response to various survey questions. No information identifying users submitting the reports is collected or stored. Accompanying the app are a Kinsey Reporter website , a Twitter feed and a Facebook page . The resources also provide links to information about sexuality, such as blogs and podcasts from the Kinsey Confidential website.